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Supreme Court backs prolifers. (News in Brief: United States).

Washington -- The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on February 26, 2003, that a federal racketeering law had been used improperly to punish pro-lifers who block the doors of abortion clinics. The demonstrators were sued in 1986 under the Racketeer-influenced Corrupt Organization Act (RICO), by two abortion clinics and by the National Organization of Women.

Chief Justice William Rehnquist, delivering the 8-1 ruling, said that while the pro-lifers' activities were disruptive, such acts do not constitute extortion as they did not "obtain property" from them.

The decision is a victory for Joe Scheidler, leader of the pro-life Chicago-based Action League who was charged in 1986, and for members of Operation Rescue. They had been ordered, by lower courts, to pay $285,000 in damages to the abortuaries and banned from protesting for ten years.

The Court's decision has been warmly welcomed by the Archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Francis George, who spoke of his gratitude to the defendants who, for years, had "endured tremendous adversity to uphold the principle of freedom of speech for all Americans." He also congratulated the judges "who today restored common sense to this area of the law."

This is the most positive decision for life to come out of the U.S. since Bill Clinton left the presidency. With Republican (though not necessarily pro-life) majorities now in every branch of government, there may now be more chance of restricting abortion, commencing with "partial birth" procedures.

The court's decision has also been hailed by other activists, such as anti-globalists who were concerned about their own freedom of expression.
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Publication:Catholic Insight
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2003
Words:260
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